Jul 27th, 2010 by admin
In the previous blog post, I discussed the daily routines that anchor us to the present, making us feel alive and creating a sense of continuity in our lives. These routines, which make us feel good when we are in a healthy place, however, take on a completely different connotation when we are in distress.
When we are in pain, mornings can be the most difficult parts of our day, as they force us to think about the day ahead, and all the things we need to do but don’t want or have the energy to face. So, the daily activities we look forward to when we are well, now become reminders of what causes us pain. We feel we have no energy to take a shower and get ready for the day, for instance. We’d rather pull the blanket over our heads and go back to sleep, so we don’t have to face a reality and feel overwhelming emotions out of our control.
Even at these painful times, however, daily routines are very helpful, because they gradually move us out of this paralyzed state. When we force ourselves to get up even if we want to stay in bed, in fact, or when we make ourselves take a shower and get dressed, we begin to feel a little less helpless and powerless.
We shouldn’t give in to sadness and pain because these feelings will paralyze us more and more if we don’t fight them. So, we need to force ourselves to go through daily routines as though each day was a normal day and we felt all right. Daily routines, even in times of sadness and pain, keep us in touch with the reality around us. They maintain a sense of consistency and continuity even when we are not well. And it is by facing reality, day in and day out, that eventually we will lift the veil of apathy, disinterest, pain and sadness that can keep us paralyzed.
There are situations where, for one reason or another, we have to let go of our daily routines. Their loss – due to illness, divorce, relocation or getting old, for instance – creates anxiety and discomfort, as though without them we temporarily lost our bearings. Older people who move into retirement homes, for instance, typically have difficulties adapting to a life where daily routines are so different and foreign to them. Older people, as they learn to rely less and less on their memory, sight and hearing because they are not as sharp as they used to be, and who battle mental confusion, rely more on their outside environment to compensate for these internal losses. So, relocation needs to be handled with sensitivity and awareness that these changes can be quite difficult.
When older people are moved from a familiar environment to a strange one, in fact, at first they feel lost. They may be unable to function at their usual level and they may appear to be more confused. To re-establish daily routines for them and make sure they are helped at the beginning, can make the relocation much easier. As they gradually get used to their new environment and re-establish daily routines, they often are able to regain their previous level of functioning.
These challenges, to a bigger or lesser extent, affect anyone who moves from a familiar place to an unfamiliar one, not only older people. It is important, therefore, to make sure that, wherever we are, we set routines in place as soon as possible in order to preserve a feeling of continuity and normalcy so fundamental for our wellbeing.
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